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tv   Nightline  ABC  July 9, 2014 12:37am-1:08am EDT

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this is "nightline." tonight, accident or murder? new details in the scorching car death of 22-month-old baby cooper. his parents allegedly took out not one but two life insurance policies on the toddler. with the father behind bars at this hour, it's the mother under scrutiny. plus -- it's pegged as the toughest and craziest bike race in the world. >> [ bleep ]. >> blood, sweat and dirt. no, it's not the tour de france. this is the race across america. this year duchess kate middleton's sister pippa joins cyclists from over 20 countries to bike 3,000 miles with no hotels, no beds, just sheer willpower. and humiliated.
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for the host nation pride and spirit now replaced by shame and outrage. an epic loss burned into their collective memories. but first the "nightline" five.
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good evening and thanks for joining us. a toddler left in the back seat of a car dies in the georgia heat. at first an outpouring of sympathy for the family. but that sympathy has turned to anger and disbelief as the father of the young victim sits in jail. he was visited today by the mother, now under intense scrutiny herself. it's part of our series "crime and punishment." justin ross harris in court, charged with murder and child cite for the death of his 22-month-old son. his behavior on the day cooper died was more than puzzling. >> he was having up to six different conversations with different women. >> and these conversations he was having with these females, were these -- of what nature were they? >> the most common term would be sexting. >> did he ever call 911? >> no, he did not. >> police say harris knew exactly how dangerous leaving
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the child in a hot car could be after seeing this safety video on tv. >> if you see a child left alone in a vehicle, please call 911. >> and this one online. just days before his son died. >> about 94 degrees. >> reporter: but on june 18th 33-year-old harris did just, that leaving his son strapped in a car seat while he went to work. seven hours later, with temperatures approaching 90 degrees, harris got back in the car and drove for several blocks before pulling cooper from the car. >> he kept saying "what have i done, what have i done." laid him on the ground, trying to do cpr, trying to resuscitate him. apparently the child wasn't responding p p. >> harris says it was all a terrible accident, that he simply forgot to drop his child off at daycare and has pled not guilty. >> ross was not aware that child was in the car. >> reporter: but it's not just the father's behavior that the authorities are investigating. it's cooper's mother too. >> and after being told that he
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was deceased, did she ask to see her son or anything like that? >> no. >> who did she ask to see? >> she asked to see her husband. >> when she was given a choice, do you want to see your child or your husband, no offense to men listening tonight, but of course a mother's going to pick her child. of course she's going to go to her toddler. but she didn't. she went to her husband. the first thing or one of the first things she said when she went into the interrogation room was not "what happened," "what happened to cooper?" no. one of the first things if not the first was "did you tell police too much? did you say too much?" yeah. that's not right. >> reporter: so now the question so many are asking. will leanna harris be charged as well? >> damning new details emerge. >> reporter: hln's nancy grace has been following the case closely. >> if she's charged, that means they were in on it together. >> maybe most troubling was leanna harris's reaction to learning that cooper had not been dropped off at daycare.
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>> in front of several witnesses all of a sudden she states, "ross must have left him in the car." and they're like, what? there's no other reason. no other explanation. excuse me. "ross must have left him in the car." and they tried to console her. they're like no, there's a thousand reasons. he could have taken him to lunch or something. we don't know yet. and she's like, no. >> reporter: according to police, it wasn't the first time she had thought about a child dying in a hot car either. they say both did internet searches on that very subject. >> did he discuss the issue of being afraid of children -- his child dying in a car? >> yes. >> what did he tell you about that? >> he said it was a fear of his. >> did he explain further things he did about this fear that he had? >> yeah. he had researched or watched websites on this fear. >> reporter: and in an affidavit the police allege leanna harris made similar statements regard
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researching in-car deaths and how it occurs. and when leanna harris arrived at the police station, she asked her husband a curious question. >> she had him sit down and he starts going through this and she looks at him. she's like, "well, did you say too much?" >> reporter: detectives clearly believe this was more than just an accident. and at harris's preliminary hearing suggested justin and leanna harris both had a possible motive. money. >> they had two policies on cooper. the first policy is the $2,000 policy through the home depot. >> the second one, was this something they got back in 2013? >> yes. >> and was this something they still had at the time of the child's death? >> dharkthat's correct. >> and how much was the policy? >> a $25,000 policy. >> this past weekend from behind bars the father, justin ross harris, was explaining to his family about how to collect the money. >> reporter: and then there's the way leanna harris has reacted since the incident. at cooper's funeral she said, "i miss him with all my heart. would i bring him back?
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no. to bring him back into this broken world would be selfish." and her demeanor has been criticized as well. >> she didn't show any emotion when they asked her. or actually when they notified her of cooper's death. >> leanna harris is not doing herself any favors. looking bored and snapping gum is not going to help. i absolutely believe that prosecutors will end up charging leanna taylor harris. i think that at that juncture she will be used against her husband. >> is it possible that prosecutors will ultimately determine that this crime is so horrific that they're not going to cut a deal with anyone and that if they have enough evidence to go after the mother that they will say no deal with the mother, no deal with the father, we're moving forward against both of them? >> if i were trying this case, i would not give them a deal if i found this to be premeditated. i would try them both. for the death penalty. >> authorities say leanna harris
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is not currently a suspect. and she's not been charged with any crime. the investigation continues. next, cyclists including pippa middleton ride 3,000 miles in the race across america. with nothing but their bikes. so what could go wrong?
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oh, i had to go to the bank. if you look legit they give you special treatment. seriously? seriously, yeah. the banker dude set up my checking account so if i make one deposit a month, no monthly maintenance fee. special treatment! citizens bank, right? yep. you know they do that one deposit checking thing for everyone, right? and...you got mustard on your suit. actually, it's your suit. one deposit checking. only from citizens bank. one deposit of any amount each statement period waives the monthly maintenance fee. it's a true test of endurance. from california to maryland. this grueling coast-to-coast bike race is not for the faint of heart. abc's neal karlinsky went along for the ride.
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>> reporter: welcome to an endurance test so hard, so unimaginable -- >> saddle sores already. dehydrated. >> maybe this wasn't the greatest idea. >> [ bleep ]. >> reporter: racers are virtually guaranteed to suffer injuries and quite possibly hallucinate. >> i've hallucinated before. i sue a chupacabra that i'm pretty sure wasn't real. >> reporter: they call it's race across america, or r.a.m., billed as the world's toughest and craziest bike race. >> it's nonstop, 3,000 miles. there isn't anything close. >> reporter: 3,000 miles from california to maryland. no hotels, no beds to sleep in. just a bike, a support team, and a camper. and the willpower to right night and day through rain and sweltering heat, all of it before the 12-day cutoff. >> we cross 12 states, 88 counties, 350 different communities. >> [ bleep ]. >> reporter: racers come here
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from 27 countries. it is an eclectic group. this year including pippa middleton as part of a team and dozen of athletes most people have never heard of. "nightline" followed two teams on an odyssey that is more cannonball run than tour de france. >> how are you feeling? >> way better now. >> it's 10:00 at night and still 95 degrees in the california desert when we find p.j.lingley, a firefighter and family man, suffering badly during his first ten hours. >> little bout of diarrhea going up the hill. >> oh, really? oh, no. >> that was no fun. >> did you have to stop? >> i made one pit stop. >> he's done about 150 miles so far, p.j. has, and he tells us he wants to go another 200 before he takes his first nap. >> reporter: p.j. from arizona worked closely with the 19 firefighters killed in a yarnell wildfire last year. he told us at the start the suffering on the bike is for
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them. >> it was really hard for me because it was, you know, close to our back yard. >> when i saw it on the news, that they had not heard from the 19, i was hysterical. >> reporter: p.j. is raising money for the victims' families, and in fact even though it's not a race requirement, most r.a.m. racers we met are testing themselves for charity. teddy george is a doctor who treats pulmonary hypertension, a rare and sometimes fatal disease that causes shortness of breath. she assembled a four-woman team for the cause and to mark her own personal milestone. >> when you turn 40, you have a choice to make. you either can put up signs that say "lordy, lordy, look who's forty." or you can race across america. i say bring it america. let's go. >> reporter: only a few hours in it's evident that the race is cruel. out on the road one team is moving at top speed when
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disaster strikes. >> unfortunately we had a crash. pretty bad crash down by the hospital. broken shoulder. >> reporter: early on for patty and the ladies of team phenomenal hope just keeping on course is proving a challenge. >> at first she's saying straight. >> patty, you're going to be turning right to get onto 76 east. >> reporter: the next morning we find p.j. struggling. he's behind schedule and faces disqualification if he can't make up lost time. >> pretty rough day. >> really? how so? >> i just didn't have any go. trying to get food and drink now. >> reporter: to get a better sense of what p.j.'s going through i grab a bike and join him. >> what do you say to people who look at you and others in this race and say you're nuts? you're nuts? >> i agree. wholeheartedly. >> reporter: during our ride the temperature alone is inhuman, ranging from 115 to 118 degrees.
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>> have you thought about quitting? you're human. the thoughts must creep in. >> they do. i fight like hell to get them out, but they do creep in. and i don't share them. but it's a fight. absolutely. and anybody who says it isn't is lying. >> reporter: i happen to be a cyclist who loves this sport. but this is beyond anything i can imagine. >> this is no joke in this heat. my heart rate is really high. and you're doing this all day and night for a week. >> reporter: by 11:00 p.m. p.j. finally gets a break. not to rest but to pay tribute to his friends, the yarnell firefighters buried in a cemetery just off the route. >> it's hard to wrap my head around it. we get to stop in and kind of share this with everybody. >> it was a long road getting here. >> very long. we're going to keep going. >> reporter: day four, and somewhere in kansas the ladies of team phenomenal hope start to feel their bodies break down.
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>> giving my quad a massage, trying to roll out the knots on a foam roller. it's really painful but when you get up your expectations are -- >> reporter: they improvise to get by and strangers offer them a kiddie pool turned ice bath. >> we borrowed it from you guys. >> thank you. >> reporter: for p.j. the race with himself was becoming too much. his crew began documenting his struggles with knee pain and swelling. eight days into the race we got this heart-wrenching voicemail from his wife colleen. >> p.j. ran into this really serious hallucinating last ni t night. he's done. the race is over. >> reporter: he wasn't alone. only 27 of 48 solo riders made it to the finish line. back home p.j. describes the mind tricks he experienced on
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the bike. >> my hallucination was my crew was making me ride extra miles and making it tougher than it had to be. the best way i can describe it is it felt like an alternate reality. it was very strange. >> reporter: will he race again? maybe. he gives it about a 50-50 chance he'll try again in two years. pippa middleton crossed the line with her team in 6 1/2 days. while the ladies of team phenomenal hope were greeted by supporters only 17 hours later. >> i wanted to laugh and smile and cry all at the same time. i did. >> reporter: crazy? maybe. no one gets rich or famous on the race across america. but the mighty few who survived it know that it's really all about the race within. i'm neal karlinsky for "nightline" in prescott, arizona. >> this year the winner finished the race in seven days, 15 hours, and 56 minutes. next, a nation humiliated on the soccer field.
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for brazil the world cup has been about more than just soccer. for years the nation had been preparing both on and off the field to proudly host the games. but tonight a shocking blowout turned that pride to shame. here's abc's bob woodruff. >> goal! >> more problems here. it's klose!
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>> and that's three! >> reporter: for a nation that lives and breathes soccer, this was the ultimate disgrace. >> they're under way. >> reporter: coming into the game, the semifinal match, they expected tough play from germany, but no one could have predicted this crushing defeat. >> this was the one thing that you never thought you'd see. >> reporter: 11 minutes in it was anyone's game, with germany up one, brazil zero. excited fans watched all over brazil, waiting for the comeback that never came. with germany quickly taking control and pulling far ahead. >> it could get worse. it's 4-0! unbelievable. >> in the crowd the teary faces of men, women, children. their heads hung in shame. despair and disbelief. watching their dream of a world cup championship on home turf slip away. goal after goal. >> trying to make sure.
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and they do make sure. >> reporter: after goal. >> once again. >> reporter: social media was on its a-game, with commentary like this -- "if only the germans had a word for taking pleasure in the misfortunes of others." and "suddenly spain doesn't look that bad." for some brazilian supporters this joke was no joke. many fans fleeing the stadium early while tens of thousands of fans in germany cheered. even brazil's head coach could not help but show his frustration. 90 minutes into the match brazil finally scored. but it was too little, too late. >> brazil get one at the end. >> reporter: the brazilians losing their first home match in almost 40 years. >> you're not imagining things. the final scoreline here is brazil 1, germany 7. >> translator: sorry, everybody. all the brazilians. i just want to see my people smiling.
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>> disaster had struck. unruly fans were literally carried out by security. while brazilians left in dishonor, the german fans were held captive. >> the german fans, the announcement was made telling them to stay in the stadium and they will be escorted out. >> reporter: police in riot gear and on horseback ready for an uprising. but most fans were calm. >> i think it's really sad to end the championship with this kind of negative result. >> reporter: f >> for brazil, for the brazilian people it's very embarrassing. >> reporter: it's one of the biggest upsets to go down in world cup history and the end of a national dream. for "nightline" i'm bob woodruff in belo horizonte, brazil. >> tough end for brazil. thanks for watching abc news. "world news now" is coming up soon with overnight breaking news. tune in to grm gf"good morning america" tomorrow. as always, we're online at
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abcnews.com. good night. every day more americans choose abc news. america's number one news source. [dramatic music] ♪ >> hello! what's up, homey? what up? what's up, baby? [cheers and applause] whoo! yes, hello and welcome to millionaire. do you ever just get that feeling like getting away from it all?
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